1965 Dodger Legends go together
On Friday 1965 Dodger hero Lou Johnson passed away and on Saturday, another Dodger great from the same era, Ron Perranoski died. Eric Stephen wrote a solid obiturary about Lou Johnson, one of the stranger Dodger heroes and I can’t add very much to what Eric wrote other than some personal notes.
I had some personal interactions with Lou Johnson because he was the unofficial greeter when you entered the Vin Scully Press Box and would always greet me as though I was a real beat writer not just a blogger for TrueBlueLa. If you were lucky he would be in the midst of telling a story, and he would stop you and say “you’ll want to hear this” and he was always right. The last time I saw Lou Johnson he was the host of the Dodger Premier of the movie “42” The crowd was filled with high school baseball players from the inner city and he told some great stories about his own racial tribulations. As Eric noted in his obit, the road for Lou was hard, but he preservered and became one of the all – time favorite Dodgers not just because of his legendary World Series home run, but because he was simply a great guy.
Ron Perranoski was an integral part of the Dodgers from 1960 – 1968 as a player and again as a pitching coach from 1981 – 1994. Ron won World Series rings in 1963 and 1965 as a player and again in 1981 and 1988 as the Dodger pitching coach. He became the pitching coach in 1981 the same year that Fernando exploded upon the baseball world, and was also the pitching coach during the run of Orel Hershiser.
For any LAD fan over the age of 40, Ron Perranoski was an integral part of their fandom. You either saw him dominating as one of the best relief pitchers for the 1960 era Dodgers or you saw him as one of the best pitching coaches in Dodger history. Some of you (not me) even saw him do both.
I’ve got two Ron Perranoski observations. Ron was traded in 1968 to the Twins along with John Roseboro. They were traded for Mudcat Grant and Zoilo Versalles. What was interesting to me was that the Dodger defeated the 1965 Twins, and MudCat Grant was the best pitcher on the team, and Zoilo was the 1965 AL MVP. Just a few years later, Mudcat was a relief pitcher and Zoilo would become a bad utility infielder. I can still remember Vin Scully saying that Versalles had one the greatest spring trainings he’d ever seen right after the Dodgers had acquired him. That great spring was just a mirage and once the regular season started is was plain to see why the Twins had traded him.
I learned my baseball from the back of baseball cards that my older brothers collected in the mid 1960’s. One of those cards was Ron Perranoski and I was always fascinated by his 1963 season in which he won 16 games and lost 3. As a relief pitcher. If you think that isn’t so weird let me tell how unique it is.
Only three players in baseball history had zero starts, fifteen or more wins, and a winning percentage greater than .800. One of those was Ron Perranoski.
Player W-L% GS W Year G L IP Roy Face .947 0 18 1959 57 1 93.1 Ron Perranoski .842 0 16 1963 69 3 129.0 Hoyt Wilhelm .833 0 15 1952 71 3 159.1
So, that brings me to this. I love being right and one day at Dodger Stadium with my eventual wife, we were listening to fans behind talking about their baseball cards. Not how cool the cards were, but how much they were worth. A Dodger trivia question was asked on the big board. Which Dodger pitcher had a record of 16 -3 in 1963 with the obvious choices of Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, or Ron Perranoski. I quickly said Perranoski and was ridiculed by the fans around me. Of course I was right, and they asked me how I knew it, and the response was simple. I read my baseball cards.